2011 will be a big year for DS1 - he's in the final year of Primary School (Year 6 in the NSW system) and will be sitting the selective high schools test and private high schools selection and scholarship tests over the next couple of months. Fortunately there is a good local public High School available (the one I attended), so it won't be a major drama if he doesn't get a place in one of the four selective high schools he nominated on his selective high school test application. I've also had him on the "waiting list" for Sydney Grammar School (one of the state's best private high schools) since he was one year old, but he may not get a spot as a) those who have been attending the Sydney Grammar Prep School for the seven years of primary education get automatic entry, b) sons of "old boys" and those with siblings already attending get higher priority than those on the "waiting list" to enter in Year 7. In any event, with the high annual fees (At AUD$22941 per annum (for Forms I - VI, non-boarding), the tuition fees are among the highest of any secondary day school in the country) DS1 would have to do very well on the scholarship test and win one of the dozen or so available scholarships for us to be able to afford sending him there for six years of secondary education (especially as DS2 is also on the Sydney Grammar waiting list, so would probably also attend Sydney Grammar if DS1 went there).
An article in today's SMH states that private school fees have risen 100% over the past ten years. So I have to wonder if it would really be worth spending the large amounts of money required to send DS1 and DS2 to private school anyhow. Sydney Grammar was originally established as a "feeder school" for Sydney University, but nowadays there is no problem getting a place at Sydney Uni if you get a good enough mark in the Higher School Certificate exams in Year 12. And, depending on your field of study, one of the other universities in Sydney woulde be a better choice (eg. NSW, UTS, or Macquarie). And if DS1 doesn't do well on the HSC there's always UWS ;) . These days the high school you attended doesn't have any direct influence on university entrance, and I suspect a private school education has also lost a lot of the career benefits the "old boys network" used to have in the past (similar to how membership of the Masons used to open more doors in the past). There seem to be a lot of "old boys" that ended up with fairly mediocre middle management careers despite the benefits of attending private school for six years - and in those cases the money spent on fees would probably have been better spent on setting the children up in their own business after completing uni.
So, although it would be nice for DS1 to win a half (or full) scholarship and be able to attend Sydney Grammar, I don't think he would be significantly better off than if he is able to attend a selective high school. Academically, he might even be get more benefit from selective high school than private school. If he does well on the upcoming tests and has the choice of either a half-scholarship to Sydney Grammar or entry to one of the better selective high schools, we'll probably choose selective high school due to the cost of private school. On the other hand, if we were choosing between a half-scholarship for Sydney Grammar or attending his fourth choice Selective High School, we'd probably try to scrape together the funds to send him to Sydney Grammar. In reality, DS1 will most likely end up attending the local non-selective public High School. He didn't do well enough on the "Opportunity Class" (years 5-6 of Primary School) test two years ago to win an OC place (I did), so, although there are slightly more Selective High School places available than OC places, he may not have the opportunity to attend either private school or selective High School.
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